Alina awoke alone the next morning. She felt a little foggy but, thankfully, wasn't super hungover. She vaguely remembered Noah gently moving out from underneath her, kissing her cheek and covering her with a light blanket. She could still smell him on the pillow next to her.
After a quick shower, she met her mom and Josie downstairs for breakfast where she mentioned meeting Noah at his work before he took her back to the hotel. Of course, she left out the part where she tried to get him to stay the night.
"Well, hope you are ready to spend another day with him, we're meeting John and Noah in about an hour and a half for the catamaran trip." Alina's mom said excitedly. "Let's go get dressed and meet downstairs in an hour."
Alina put her purple swimsuit on with a flowy, black swimsuit cover up over the top. She put her black water sandals on and tied her hair in a tight bun. Finally she grabbed her large beach tote, sunscreen, camera, phone, and sketchpad.
They took a cab to the address John had given them and stepped out to see John and Noah waiting on a sidewalk path by a marina. Noah was wearing blue board shorts that matched his eyes, a white shirt, flip flops, and, of course, his backwards black hat. He smiled when they saw them.
"Hi!" John called. "Are you ladies ready for an exciting day?"
Josie, Melissa, and Alina all agreed that they were and followed John down into the marina.
Noah fell behind with Alina and smiled at her.
"How'd you sleep?" Noah asked quietly.
"Good, thank you," Alina said with a slight blush.
The group approached a gorgeous, bright catamaran with two people moving around the boat, pulling various ropes and moving equipment around. One of them looked up as John shouted his good morning and she recognized him.
"Carlos! Good morning!" John said.
Carlos, the young man from the wading pool that Noah had taken her to waved enthusiastically. An older man also stood up when he heard them approach and stuck his hand out for John to shake.
"John! Great to see you my friend," the man said as he shook John's hand.
"This is my friend Melissa, and her daughters Josie and Alina," John said. "Ladies, our brilliant tour guide today is Manny and that's his son Carlos."
After everyone said their hellos, they boarded the catamaran and were given a quick overview of where they could move, safety, and their agenda for the day. As they pushed off from the dock, Carlos and Manny worked efficiently to get the vessel moving smoothly toward the open sea. The sun was already starting to blare down on them but the soft ocean spray and cool breeze helped keep the temperature to a manageable level. Or maybe Alina was getting used to this humid air? She wasn't sure but she was excited and happy to be exactly where she was.
Alina was sitting at the back of the boat with everyone else. She constantly looked around at the ocean, the sky, the boat moving seamlessly over the turquoise water, she couldn't wait to explore a reef in the water.
Noah was talking to, and occasionally helping, Carlos. Alina noticed their voices dropped and they glanced at her. Alina pretended not to see and simply looked out over the water. She felt a blush creep up her neck.
Alina moved to the cushioned seats at the front of the boat, leaving her mom, sister, and John to chat and take photos. She pulled her sketchpad out so she could distract herself. She started drawing a bird, then a boat on the water. Her chin rested on her left palm while her right hand moved the pencil across the page. Suddenly a shadow fell across her drawing.
"That's really good, how come I didn't know you could draw?" Noah asked as he sat down next to her.
She smiled at him.
"Surely you don't expect to learn everything about me in a few days?"
He chuckled and the butterflies inside her stomach fluttered. He scooted closer to get a good look at her sketches.
"I'd love to see more some time, if you want to share of course," she could feel his breath on her neck.
"I'd...like that too."
Just then the boat started to slow, Alina closed her sketchbook.
Noah held out his hand.
"Of course," she replied.
Alina had been snorkeling before but never in a place like this. Other than a strip of land in the distance, all around them was sparkling blue water and a clear blue sky. This was in stark contrast to the moody, darkness of the ocean off the coast of Oregon.
Everyone on board decided Noah, Alina and Carlos would go first and John, Melissa and Josie would go second. Alina was fitted with fins and a snorkel mask that pushed her lips and cheeks out. Noah and Carlos were wearing the same things and Carlos had a cool, underwater camera as well.
A few hours later, with a late afternoon sun dipping lower in the sky, the boat made its way back to the marina.